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WASTECON Dispatch: Wednesday Session Snapshots

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A sampling of the educational offerings at Wednesday's WASTECON program.

Wednesday was a full day of educational programming at WASTECON, being held in Long Beach, Calif. With a wide range of concurrent sessions running throughout the day, attendees had some hard decisions to make and several ducked between ongoing sessions.

One session that proved somewhat irresistible was “Flow Control: How Is It Faring in the Courts?” The topic was an opportunity for the waste community’s brightest legal lights, Barry S. Shanoff, General Counsel for the Solid Waste Association of North America, and David Biderman, General Counsel and Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Solid Wastes Management Association, to shine a little of their expertise on the touchy subject of flow control, still one of the chief bones of contention between public and private waste entities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this being a SWANA event, the room was discernibly in Shanoff’s corner, but Biderman managed to score a few decisive points, especially with recent case law on his side. The spirited debate concluded amicably, with general agreement that while flow control was largely a decided issue since the United Haulers Association, Inc. v. Oneida-Herkima Solid Waste Management Authority decision, there are still some unique aspects of flow control that remain to be litigated (and likely will be in the coming years).

In "Case Study of Successful Waste Diversion at Colleges and Universities” SCS Engineers Vice President Michelle Leonard detailed waste characterization and diversion efforts at two private California colleges, the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Pomona College in Claremont. In both instances Leonard detailed the challenge of balancing student apathy against their enthusiasm for environmental causes when it comes to reducing and properly directing waste. She discussed ways in which recycling systems were streamlined and made more consistent (e.g., making sure campus recycling bins were of similar design and function to promote habitual recycling), and the introduction of applicable technology like Big Belly solar compactors and Somat food waste dehydrators. And she highlighted source reduction tactics, like issuing students reusable mugs and clamshell food containers that allow them to take food out of the dining halls without needing to use disposable containers. Ultimately Leonard classified the efforts at both schools as successes in terms of establishing crucial recycling and organic waste infrastructure and achieving big gains in student awareness and buy-in.

Meanwhile, Lisa Skumatz, principal of Skumatz Economic Research Associates Inc. (SERA), addressed a transition many public and municipal haulers have mulled at one time or another in “Every Other Week / Fortnightly Collection: It Is (Mostly) About the Collections.” Skumatz acknowledged that while going to more infrequent collections certainly presents challenges, the benefits in terms of boosting waste diversion and significant cost savings make it a change worth pursuing. Among the keys cited for successful implementation were ensuring residents are given trash and recycling carts of sufficient size to accommodate the longer collection cycle, or a range of sizes to suit their needs. Separate collection of organics (food scraps and yard waste), where that is feasible, greatly improves the likelihood of success when going to every other week (EOW) collection. Also important is offering a range of subscription levels for residents who resist the EOW timeline, such as parents of young children with diaper trash, allowing them to continue to have their trash collected more frequently – for a price. A final key Skumatz cited was aggressive public education and community engagement to emphasize the benefits of the frequency change and best practices for adapting to it.

WASTECON concludes on Thursday, Sept. 19.

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The Heap is a blog featuring waste industry news and analysis written by the staff of Waste360 and guest commentators.

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Allan Gerlat

Allan Gerlat joined the Waste360 staff in September 2011 as news editor. He was the editor of Waste & Recycling News for the first 16 years of its history, and under his guidance the...

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